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Expect to see increase in Thanksgiving travelers this year, officials say

Officials with AAA and the Asheville Regional Airport have released their Thanksgiving travel forecasts for 2017, and both expect to see an increase in travelers from year to year. (Photo credit: Pixabay/WLOS Staff)

Officials with AAA and the Asheville Regional Airport have released their Thanksgiving travel forecasts for 2017, and both expect to see an increase in travelers from year to year.

According to AAA, 89 percent of all travelers in the nation -- 45.5 million -- are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, which is an increase of 1.6 million over last year.

“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of what will likely become the busiest holiday season in more than a decade,” Vicky Evans, a AAA representative, said in a press release Thursday. Evans attributes the increase to a strong economy and labor market.

AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predict travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26 could be as much as three times longer than the optimal trip. Gas prices during the Thanksgiving travel season will also be the highest since 2014.

AAA also expects holiday air travel to see a 5 percent increase nationwide.

The Asheville Regional Airport echoed AAA's prediction Thursday, saying they are expecting high numbers of scheduled passengers for the Thanksgiving travel week.

“We typically see about 2,500 – 2,800 passengers each day at the airport during the busiest holiday travel days,” Tina Kinsey, a spokesperson for the airport, said in a release. “This year, depending on the day, we will see a 16 to 35 percent increase in passengers compared to last year.”

Wednesday, Nov. 22, Thursday, Nov. 23, and Sunday, Nov. 26, are expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel days at the Asheville Airport. On Sunday alone, there are 4,066 scheduled passengers, which airport officials say is a 35 percent increase over last year.

Asheville Airport officials said travelers should plan on arriving at the airport at least two hours before their flight times the week of Thanksgiving to allow time for parking, check-in, and to go through security screening.

For road travelers, keep ahead of traffic in Asheville and western North Carolina with News 13's On Time Traffic. You can also track gas prices in your area through News 13's Pump Patrol.

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